I love the trend on Facebook among some of my friends, to post one thing each day for which to be thankful as we approach Thanksgiving Day later this month. Gratefulness is something we actually need to practice, meaning that sometimes it will flow like honey, and sometimes we feel like we’re forcing something sharp up and out of our mouths. Either way, I believe that as children of God, we have reason to be thankful every day of our lives! Today, I told myself that I must “catch up” and try to post something every day this month to get back in the habit of being publicly grateful. When we share being thankful with others, we amplify our gratitude! I also thought it would be an additional challenge to try to be thankful for something each day that might not be an obvious choice.
This idea was the inspiration for today’s post here, and the title of the post. How in the world could I be thankful for a tantrum? Don’t worry, it’s still confusing me a bit, too, but stick with me.
Bedtime in our home for the kids is remarkably predictable, and that is part of the reason that it usually goes swimmingly. After dinner, time to play, and maybe a little dessert, we head upstairs around 6 to get them ready. By about 6:30, they’re all done; we have a family chat and prayer about a Bible verse, and then maybe a little more time to play and/or read. Hugs and kisses at 7, and then it’s lights out. On weekend nights, we go crazy and let L. stay up reading until 7:15 or 7:30. Wild, right? However, whenever we’ve strayed too far from this routine, all bets are off for reasonable, predictable behavior the next day. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
Tonight’s drama started a little after 6. We had been playing as a family with remote control cars in the living room and dining room, and when L. stopped so he could play a few minutes of a video game, I thought it would be a good time to take A. upstairs to get her ready for bed. At the time, she was wearing a pair of flip flops, as we had talked about maybe going outside for a short walk after dinner, but had chosen to stay in. We normally don’t wear shoes inside the house at all, but for whatever reason neither V. nor I had asked A. to remove her flip flops even though we were staying inside. As we were about to head upstairs, I told her it was time to take off the flip flops. Usually, she’ll sit down on a step, take them off, and put them away. No problem, easy peasy. I don’t know exactly what happened this time, but she snapped. There were blunt refusals. There were screams. There were tears. Overtired?
By the grace of God, I stayed calm. I matter-of-factly picked her up, with the flip flops still on. Getting a fresh diaper on for nighttime was no simple task. She flailed, she turned onto her side, she did everything to try to get her way. And, she still didn’t want those flip flops to come off! Somehow, I managed to not only get the flip flops off and out of her reach, but I changed her diaper and got her pajamas on. Though she was still crying, she didn’t protest when I directed her to the bathroom to brush her teeth and take her vitamin. She also didn’t protest when I carried her downstairs to tell her Daddy and brother good night, even though she was still crying. She cried all the way back up to her room and only stopped when I told her we wouldn’t be able to read any books unless she could stop crying at that time.
Three books later, she rested in my arms for her pre-bedtime snuggle. She nestled in nice and close, and I stroked her forehead and her hair, feeling certain that she must have a decent headache by now. I know I would. I told her “all our things”–something my parents and I used to do before my bedtime, with one or two additions from L., that the kids and I do before they each go to bed: “Good night, sleep tight, sweet dreams, I love you, sleep cozy, Jesus loves you, Jesus is amazing”. I told her too that her Daddy and I, as well as God, love her whether she is crying or laughing, no matter what. I told her of course I’m more able to help her when she uses words instead of tears and screaming, but that the love never, ever changes. That seemed to soothe her. She fell asleep quickly and peacefully.
With A. sound asleep, I was able to tell L. good night, as he had just set his book down to start closing his eyes. One of my very favorite things about him is how much he still loves having me come in and check on him after I get A. to bed. He often tells me things or asks me things that didn’t make it out of his mind earlier, and it is quite a treat to have that one-on-one time. I sat in his bed with him until 7:30, and we talked, joked, looked at pictures on my phone of our family, and just got to be Mommy-and-L. again. We said “all our things” too, and I added the same words I’d told A.: that V. and I, and God, love him whether he is laughing or crying, no matter what, forever. I told him that his Daddy and I couldn’t be happier with him as a son.
Maybe I would’ve gotten to have that time with L. even if A. hadn’t had her tantrum, but I don’t think my emotions would have been so stirred up or so easy to express. I’m so very thankful that I got to remind both my children tonight of their parents’ love, and ultimately of God’s great love for all of us.